I have recently been conducting research for my next book about stress. It’s certainly a fascinating topic and I have been involved in lots of interviews, with an eclectic mix of people, attempting to establish what tips people into a state of distress.
Of course we are all unique, and like snowflakes everyone is different. Our reactions and responses to the everyday stresses and strains of modern living vary hugely and depend on a complex blend of variables. It seems that at the top of the list of catalysts for many people is the speed at which our lives are going, and our ability to juggle so many priorities all at once.
The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities - Stephen Covey
So, let me ask you a question…
When you compile your daily to do list, what do you put at the top?
The chances are it probably isn’t the most important priority. In fact for many people the most important priority may not even be on their list.
You see the most important priority needs to be you! You really need to be factoring in time each and every day for yourself. Time to stop, time to reflect, time to be a human being not a human doing.
You really need to be factoring in time each and every day for yourself.
I often think this quote by Ovid the Roman poet sums this up beautifully: “Take rest; a field that has rested gives a beautiful crop”.
You are in fact your highest priority, and the all important 'me time' is crucial if you are going to have the strength and energy to meet the demands and pressures of life in the 21st century; because let’s face it, life can be very challenging at the best of times.
Our ability to be able to cope with relentless change and volatility certainty relies on our ability to be resilient, and physical and emotional wellbeing is of paramount importance.
You are most certainly worth it!
I was delivering a presentation a few weeks ago and generated a discussion with the audience about the challenges of prioritising ourselves. It seems that feelings of guilt and selfishness seems to create personal barriers. Sometimes people fall into the trap of rushing around trying to be everything to everyone, and propelled into meeting other demands.
This of course can be a false economy of time spent, because if we do that to the detriment of ourselves all those people we have supported will then need to look after us. It makes me think of the instruction on an aircraft when the flight attendants go through the safety instructions:
Put the life mask on yourself before you help others!
Isn’t that just a great analogy for life?
Sometimes people fall into the trap of rushing around trying to be everything to everyone
Making your own personal wellbeing your biggest priority has nothing to do with being selfish. No one needs to feel guilty or ashamed about this. It is infact the most responsible approach to life. You actually have a duty to look after yourself and invest in self-care. This also isn’t about saying no to people when they ask you to do something. It’s more about saying yes however, on your terms and about what you can realistically, as a healthy human being, deliver.
I also think our approach to emotional and physical wellbeing isn’t a complex or time-consuming pursuit. It’s about creating moments of sanctuary in your day to reflect, relax and replenish.
Finding a balance in life, in my opinion, is the ultimate life skill and the one that is the most challenging to master.
Many people spend more time at work than they do at home and more time with work colleagues than with friends and family, so work is a huge part of their lives. It is now more important than ever that people learn to manage their lives so that they create a better balance and reduce unnecessary harmful stress overload, which, in turn, will promote better long-term health and well being.
I think the idea of life balance is further complicated by the fact that today’s workforce is more diverse than it has ever been and also made up of different generations, each with its own set of priorities. Additionally, businesses are in various stages of their own life cycles. Instead of looking for a generic, standardised concept of life, we need to understand that it is our own responsibility to make sure that we implement appropriate and relevant personal strategies. These guiding principles can then help us to get a better perspective on how we can better balance our time and energy.
Finding a balance in life, in my opinion, is the ultimate life skill
So everyday when you compile your to do list make sure that you factor in time for you and ensure that you never lose sight of your biggest priority.
I think these words by Shakespeare from one of my favourite plays of all time Henry V, says it all!
Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin, as self-neglecting.
Over the next few months I am really looking forward to contributing articles and preview extracts from my new book The Stress Advantage for Training Zone. I would also love to hear from anyone who has any interesting insights and thoughts about this fascinating topic.